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Work in Progress: Aligning and Assessing Learning Objectives for a Biomedical Engineering Course Sequence Using Standards-based Grading within a Learning Management System

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Biomedical Division Postcard Session

Tagged Division

Biomedical Engineering

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Paper Authors


Casey Jane Ankeny Northwestern University

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Casey J. Ankeny, PhD is an Assistant Professor of Instruction at Northwestern University. Casey received her bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Virginia in 2006 and her doctorate degree in Biomedical Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University in 2012 where she studied the role of shear stress in aortic valve disease. Currently, she is investigating cyber-based student engagement strategies in flipped and traditional biomedical engineering courses. She aspires to understand and improve student attitude, achievement, and persistence in student-centered courses.

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David P. O'Neill Northwestern University

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Standards-based grading (SBG) involves the creation of course learning objectives (LO) and linking these learning objectives to particular aspects of course assignments. Assignments are created such that students have the opportunity to show mastery in a particular learning objective multiple times over the course. This approach aligns student assessment with the intended course outcomes, rather than the traditional score-based grading. The technique has been implemented extensively in K-12, but we are just now beginning to assess its use in engineering in higher education. Recent work by Carberry, et al. [2016] investigated the implementation of SBG by ten instructors at six institutions, work that has uncovered best practices associated with SBG which will be applied in our research study as described in the methods section below. We are motivated to implement SBG as a means to connect courses in a Junior-level course sequence in Biomedical Engineering. We hypothesize that course LO are not well-mapped or optimally assessed throughout this sequence leading to unpreparedness in courses later in the sequence. Our work will identify, align, and assess LO within and across courses using SBG. We will also review and assess implementation of SBG in this context. Currently, the first course in the sequence focuses on electronics and introduces signal acquisition. The second course focuses on signals and systems, namely advanced digital processing. The last course incorporates content from the previous courses in the sequence as well as from a fundamental statistics course in the context of experimental design and measurement. Implementation of SBG will originate in this culminating course. To date, learning objectives have been defined for this course. We will begin by matching these LO with assessments. Implementation of the SBG will be done within Canvas’s Outcomes feature. This allows students to track mastery of LO and instructors to monitor and address in a formative way those LO that students are struggling to master. This feedback will also aid assessment of instruction in preceding courses. It is our goal to introduce SBG into the earlier courses as well so that instructors of subsequent classes can gauge student mastery in relevant LO at the beginning of their course. Until mastery-based grading has been implemented throughout the sequence, quizzes based on the relevant LO of the previous course(s) will be administered. To date, a statistics concept quiz has been administered with questions pulled directly from prerequisite statistics course(s) which are relevant to the experimental design course. Development of other pre-tests are underway. Implementation of SBG will be evaluated based on overall achievement and achievement gains (in terms of SBG and concept quizzes), persistence (i.e., comparison of student numbers before and after the drop date), and attitude (through Canvas surveys) with respect to SGB. As a result of SBG, we believe that students will be able to better articulate and track their mastery of LO. This type of assessment could be used in conjunction with virtual portfolios to showcase skill sets in job opportunities. Finally, this assessment approach could be scaled to encompass the entire degree, rather than a single course or sequence.

Ankeny, C. J., & O'Neill, D. P. (2019, June), Work in Progress: Aligning and Assessing Learning Objectives for a Biomedical Engineering Course Sequence Using Standards-based Grading within a Learning Management System Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33591

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